Don’t scoff and think gliding around in tights and on wheels is just for kids; this is one activity that anyone, even you, can take up. “Skating is safer than running or aerobics as the movements are very fluid and the impact on joints is lesser,” explains Dhiraj Utmani of Roll-o-fit, a skating company that conducts classes at various places across Mumbai.
It’s as easy to pick up as it was when you were a kid. All you have to do is strap on a pair and experiment, and within two months you’ll be whizzing away. Still, if you’re looking to it as an exercise routine, Utmani recommends getting some training so you can master the technique and make sure you get a better workout.
It’ll also help you reduce chances of unknowingly damaging a muscle or straining a ligament, he adds.
Done right, skating is great exercise. Not only does it burn many calories, it exercises roughly 602 muscles in your body. With the right posture and technique, you could increase your stamina, exercise your lower back, glutes, hamstring, quadriceps, calf muscles, shoulders and arms, and develop a lean body.
If you want to take things up a notch, you can even try out ‘skateobics’, which combines skating and aerobics, to specifically achieve aims like weight reduction and improvement in balance and flexibility.
“The moves are just like those in aerobics, only you’re on skates while doing them. Your instructor choreographs moves specially for you depending on your body structure,” Utmani says.
If it’s such great exercise, how come you don’t see people skating that often? The main reason skating isn’t as popular in India as it is in the West, is the lack of proper rinks. So while most instructors conduct classes in open-air cement courts, most skaters eventually find themselves hitting the roads early in the morning, much before the traffic makes them impassable.
Purnima Dabholkar, who had co-organised a skating event at Acres Club in Chembur, Mumbai, in 2006, says: “Many children have to skate on the roads, dodging cars and trucks, because there aren’t proper rinks. This often keeps people away from the sport. Our event was organised on a go-karting track, which worked just as well as a rink.”
While in Mumbai, the seaside promenades are good places to go skating, in Delhi, it’s the wide streets of Gurgaon that seem to draw skaters. Rajesh Sharma, secretary of district roller skating association of Gurgaon, says, “When we began in 2004, nobody knew much about skating. But in 2007, at the district championship, there were 300 participants, and by the following year, the number had doubled.”
If you really get hooked, you can even sign up for skating competitions that are vigorous attempts to reach the finish line. Skaters can go really fast, even achieving speeds up to 110 kph on roads, says Mumbai-based instructor Rishi Sarode, 41, who has been skating for 29 years.
If you’re confident enough to pull it off, you can even use it as a means to commute, he claims: “You can easily reach Ghatkopar from Mulund in about 11 minutes if you’re even fluctuating between 60-65 kph.”
Now if that isn’t a good reason to master skating, we don’t know what is!